Following a generous grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC), the National Science Foundation‘s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) will soon launch a two-year project to engage BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students in learning about the electromagnetic spectrum and the excitement of amateur— also called ham— radio. The new project, Exploring the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS), is expected to offer its first student-facing trainings in January 2023.
ARDC selected EMS because of NRAO’s proven track record in supporting underrepresented minority students in the sciences by combining mentoring and instruction from content experts with best practices in equity.
As a part of NRAO’s broader impacts-focused SuperKnova learning platform, EMS will combine the expertise of NRAO staff, amateur radio enthusiasts, and other subject matter experts to develop a scalable and shareable curriculum, introduce students to EMS and radio technologies through hands-on activities, and support students in attaining technical and general class licenses in amateur radio.
Amateur radio provides a hands-on entry point to understanding the radio spectrum and its practical uses, including communications, astronomy, and community emergency infrastructure and response. Early support and engagement with amateur radio has the potential to create pathways for students to a future career or lifelong hobby in the sciences. The $315,123 ARDC grant will allow NRAO to develop and execute the program for two cohorts of students. It will also result in the development of a nine-month EMS curriculum that will be freely available to school groups, community clubs, and educational institutions.
NRAO Director Tony Beasley said, “Amateur radio continues to be incredibly important to the nation and global communications, and NRAO is excited to be working with ARDC to bring a new generation and diverse communities to the field.”
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. Furthering NSF’s mission to advance the progress of science, the NRAO enables research into the Universe at radio wavelengths and provides world-class telescopes, instrumentation, and expertise to the scientific community. NRAO’s mission includes a commitment to broader, equitable, inclusive participation in science and engineering, training the next generation of scientists and engineers, and promoting astronomy to foster a more scientifically literate society. NRAO operates three research facilities: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), which are available for use by scientists from around the globe, regardless of institutional or national affiliation. NRAO welcomes applicants who bring diverse and innovative dimensions to the Observatory and to the field of radio astronomy. For more information about NRAO, go to https://public.nrao.edu.
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) is a California-based foundation with roots in amateur radio and the technology of internet communication. The organization got its start by managing the AMPRNet address space, which is reserved for licensed amateur radio operators worldwide. Additionally, ARDC makes grants to projects and organizations that follow amateur radio’s practice and tradition of technical experimentation in both amateur radio and digital communication science. Such experimentation has led to advances that benefit the general public, including the mobile phone and wireless internet technology. ARDC envisions a world where all such technology is available through open source hardware and software, and where anyone has the ability to innovate upon it. To learn more about ARDC, please visit https://www.ampr.org.
Amy C. Oliver
Public Information & News Manager, NRAO
Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
ARDC Communications Manager